Go from sedentary to strong in 6 steps
Thursday 2nd January 2020
Here is our latest article featured in the London Evening Standard as part of Voltarols Get Active campaign...
Strength is relative; the amount you need will differ to mine.
What doesn't change is that being strong is important. We need strong muscles, strong joints, strong minds, a strong immune system and this list goes on.
The problem is that as we age, our physical strength begins to decline and we lose muscle mass in a process called sacropenia. And one study found that the rate at which males lose muscle and strength accelerates between the ages of 40 and 60.
Although it may sound bleak, we can battle back against this decline, and our weapon of choice is resistance training.
We can consolidate and increase muscle mass by performing resistance training all the way through life. An analysis of 49 studies published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that men aged between 50 and 83 who performed progressive resistance training increased their muscle mass by at least one kilo.
It's relatively straightforward to build strength - increase the stress placed upon your body gradually using resistance training. The more you train, the stronger you become. Though gradual is the key word here, and this is where many people fall short; instead opting to take part in intense workouts from the very beginning that can be stressful and difficult to sustain.
Your training should be accompanied by adequate recovery and a nutritious diet. There really are no short cuts although many are often touted. Unfortunately, the desire to achieve quick wins often leads people down the wrong path.
The good news is that you will see the greatest improvement at the very beginning - yes it's the hardest part but also the most rewarding. If you stay consistent you will not only continue to see constant progress but create an exercise habit.
Here are 6 steps to follow to go from sedentary to strong and achieve results that last a lifetime.
Decide your long-term vision
Get really specific when deciding your long-term goal. Anything is achievable, so be ambitious. Once you have decided your goal, you can begin to break it down into quarterly targets and then set bi-weekly achievable wins, before long you will start to enjoy the feeling of continuous progress.
Create a plan that fits within your busy schedule
Your daily routine is unique to you; finding a solution that fits within your schedule is crucial to long-term success. Begin by evaluating your daily routine before adding structure and implementing progressive changes.
Snack on movement
We are more sedentary than ever so we need to find a way to stay active. One option is to create a trigger to remind you to stand up and move around. You can do this by setting a silent alarm on your phone for at least every 45 minutes.
Build a base
It's easy to want to skip this stage and jump straight into intense workouts but this will likely lead to a plateau or, even worse, injury.
Creating a solid base of aerobic fitness, good mobility and strength will give you the prerequisites to take on any physical activity.
We adapt and repair when we rest and recover. Schedule recovery days into your programme, practise deep breathing, eat a diet rich in nutritious food and aim to get at least seven hours of good quality sleep each night. This will give you a balanced approach to getting in shape.
This is where you can increase the intensity of your workouts. In each workout you will be able to push slightly harder as you become fitter and stronger. You will understand how to get the right balance between rest and recovery so that you continue to improve without overtraining. You will also gain confidence that your body is able to do the things you want it to, and become more resilient to the challenges of modern life.
No matter the challenges you face in life, you will be able to tackle them more effectively when you are strong. The 'no pain no gain' approach is yesterdays thinking - small changes lead to life-changing results.
Choose strong - whatever that means to you.